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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: learning, teaching, assessment

Table 1. Common Reference Levels: global scale

Procient
User

C2

Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise
information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing
arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express him/herself
spontaneously, very uently and precisely, differentiating ner shades of
meaning even in more complex situations.

C1

Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise


implicit meaning. Can express him/herself uently and spontaneously
without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language exibly
and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce
clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled
use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.

B2

Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and
abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her eld of
specialisation. Can interact with a degree of uency and spontaneity that
makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain
for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects
and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and
disadvantages of various options.

B1

Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters
regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most
situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is
spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of
personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and
ambitions and briey give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

A2

Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of


most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information,
shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and
routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on
familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her
background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate
need.

A1

Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases
aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce
him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal
details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she
has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and
clearly and is prepared to help.

Independent
User

Basic
User

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Common Reference Levels


In order to orient learners, teachers and other users within the educational system for
some practical purpose, however, a more detailed overview is likely to be necessary. Such
an overview can be presented in the form of a grid showing major categories of language
use at each of the six levels. The example in Table 2 (on the next two pages) is a draft for
a self-assessment orientation tool based on the six levels. It is intended to help learners
to prole their main language skills, and decide at which level they might look at a
checklist of more detailed descriptors in order to self-assess their level of prociency.
For other purposes, it may be desirable to focus on a particular spectrum of levels, and
a particular set of categories. By restricting the range of levels and categories covered to
those relevant to a particular purpose, it will be possible to add more detail: ner levels
and categories. Such detail would enable a set of modules to be mapped relative to one
another and also to be situated in relation to the Common Framework.
Alternatively, rather than proling categories of communicative activities, one may
wish to assess a performance on the basis of the aspects of communicative language competence one can deduce from it. The chart in Table 3 was designed to assess spoken performances. It focuses on different qualitative aspects of language use.

3.4 Illustrative descriptors


The three tables used to introduce the Common Reference Levels (Tables 1, 2 and 3) are
summarised from a bank of illustrative descriptors developed and validated for the CEF
in the research project described in Appendix B. These formulations have been mathematically scaled to these levels by analysing the way in which they have been interpreted
in the assessment of large numbers of learners.
For ease of consultation, scales of descriptors are juxtaposed to the relevant categories
of the descriptive scheme in Chapters 4 and 5. The descriptors refer to the following three
metacategories in the descriptive scheme:

Communicative activities
Can Do descriptors are provided for reception, interaction and production. There may
not be descriptors for all sub-categories for every level, since some activities cannot be
undertaken until a certain level of competence has been reached, whilst others may
cease to be an objective at higher levels.

Strategies
Can Do descriptors are provided for some of the strategies employed in performing communicative activities. Strategies are seen as a hinge between the learners resources (competences) and what he/she can do with them (communicative activities). The principles
of a) planning action, b) balancing resources and compensating for deciencies during
execution and c) monitoring results and undertaking repair as necessary are described
in the sections dealing with interaction and production strategies in Chapter 4.

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: learning, teaching, assessment


Table 2. Common Reference Levels: self-assessment grid
A1

U
N
D
E
R
S
T
A
N
D
I
N
G

S
P
E
A
K
I
N
G

W
R
I
T
I
N
G

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A2

B1

Listening

I can recognise familiar


words and very basic
phrases concerning
myself, my family and
immediate concrete
surroundings when
people speak slowly
and clearly.

I can understand phrases


and the highest frequency
vocabulary related to areas
of most immediate personal
relevance (e.g. very basic
personal and family
information, shopping,
local area, employment).
I can catch the main point in
short, clear, simple messages
and announcements.

I can understand the main


points of clear standard
speech on familiar matters
regularly encountered in
work, school, leisure, etc. I
can understand the main
point of many radio or TV
programmes on current
affairs or topics of personal
or professional interest when
the delivery is relatively slow
and clear.

Reading

I can understand
familiar names, words
and very simple
sentences, for example
on notices and posters
or in catalogues.

I can read very short, simple


texts. I can nd specic,
predictable information in
simple everyday material
such as advertisements,
prospectuses, menus and
timetables and I can
understand short simple
personal letters.

I can understand texts that


consist mainly of high
frequency everyday or jobrelated language. I can
understand the description of
events, feelings and wishes in
personal letters.

Spoken
Interaction

I can interact in a simple


way provided the other
person is prepared to
repeat or rephrase things
at a slower rate of speech
and help me formulate
what Im trying to say. I
can ask and answer simple
questions in areas of
immediate need or on
very familiar topics.

I can communicate in simple


and routine tasks requiring a
simple and direct exchange of
information on familiar topics
and activities. I can handle
very short social exchanges,
even though I cant usually
understand enough to keep
the conversation going myself.

I can deal with most situations


likely to arise whilst travelling
in an area where the language
is spoken. I can enter
unprepared into conversation
on topics that are familiar, of
personal interest or pertinent
to everyday life (e.g. family,
hobbies, work, travel and
current events).

Spoken
Production

I can use simple phrases


and sentences to describe
where I live and people I
know.

I can use a series of phrases


and sentences to describe in
simple terms my family and
other people, living
conditions, my educational
background and my present
or most recent job.

I can connect phrases in a


simple way in order to describe
experiences and events, my
dreams, hopes and ambitions.
I can briey give reasons and
explanations for opinions and
plans. I can narrate a story or
relate the plot of a book or
lm and describe my reactions.

Writing

I can write a short, simple


postcard, for example
sending holiday greetings.
I can ll in forms with
personal details, for
example entering my
name, nationality and
address on a hotel
registration form.

I can write short, simple notes


and messages relating to
matters in areas of immediate
need. I can write a very simple
personal letter, for example
thanking someone for
something.

I can write simple connected


text on topics which are
familiar or of personal interest.
I can write personal letters
describing experiences and
impressions.

Common Reference Levels

B2

C1

C2

I can understand extended speech


and lectures and follow even
complex lines of argument provided
the topic is reasonably familiar. I
can understand most TV news and
current affairs programmes. I can
understand the majority of lms in
standard dialect.

I can understand extended speech


even when it is not clearly
structured and when relationships
are only implied and not signalled
explicitly. I can understand
television programmes and lms
without too much effort.

I have no difculty in understanding


any kind of spoken language,
whether live or broadcast, even when
delivered at fast native speed,
provided I have some time to get
familiar with the accent.

I can read articles and reports


concerned with contemporary
problems in which the writers adopt
particular attitudes or viewpoints. I
can understand contemporary
literary prose.

I can understand long and


complex factual and literary
texts, appreciating distinctions of
style. I can understand specialised
articles and longer technical
instructions, even when they do
not relate to my eld.

I can read with ease virtually all


forms of the written language,
including abstract, structurally or
linguistically complex texts such as
manuals, specialised articles and
literary works.

I can interact with a degree of


uency and spontaneity that makes
regular interaction with native
speakers quite possible. I can take an
active part in discussion in familiar
contexts, accounting for and
sustaining my views.

I can express myself uently and


spontaneously without much
obvious searching for expressions.
I can use language exibly and
effectively for social and
professional purposes. I can
formulate ideas and opinions with
precision and relate my
contribution skilfully to those of
other speakers.

I can take part effortlessly in any


conversation or discussion and have a
good familiarity with idiomatic
expressions and colloquialisms. I can
express myself uently and convey
ner shades of meaning precisely. If I
do have a problem I can backtrack
and restructure around the difculty
so smoothly that other people are
hardly aware of it.

I can present clear, detailed


descriptions on a wide range of
subjects related to my eld of
interest. I can explain a viewpoint on
a topical issue giving the advantages
and disadvantages of various options.

I can present clear, detailed


descriptions of complex subjects
integrating sub-themes, developing
particular points and rounding off
with an appropriate conclusion.

I can present a clear, smoothly


owing description or argument in a
style appropriate to the context and
with an effective logical structure
which helps the recipient to notice
and remember signicant points.

I can write clear, detailed text on a


wide range of subjects related to my
interests. I can write an essay or
report, passing on information or
giving reasons in support of or
against a particular point of view. I
can write letters highlighting the
personal signicance of events and
experiences.

I can express myself in clear, wellstructured text, expressing points


of view at some length. I can write
about complex subjects in a
letter, an essay or a report,
underlining what I consider to be
the salient issues. I can select
style appropriate to the reader
in mind.

I can write clear, smoothly owing


text in an appropriate style. I can
write complex letters, reports or
articles which present a case with an
effective logical structure which
helps the recipient to notice and
remember signicant points. I can
write summaries and reviews of
professional or literary works.

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B2

Has a sufcient range of


language to be able to give
clear descriptions, express
viewpoints on most general
topics, without much
conspicuous searching for
words, using some complex
sentence forms to do so.

Has a good command of a


broad range of language
allowing him/her to select a
formulation to express him/
herself clearly in an
appropriate style on a wide
range of general, academic,
professional or leisure
topics without having to
restrict what he/she wants
to say.

C1

B2+

Shows great exibility


reformulating ideas in
differing linguistic forms
to convey ner shades of
meaning precisely, to give
emphasis, to differentiate
and to eliminate ambiguity.
Also has a good command
of idiomatic expressions
and colloquialisms.

C2

RANGE

Shows a relatively high


degree of grammatical
control. Does not make
errors which cause misunderstanding, and can
correct most of his/her
mistakes.

Consistently maintains a
high degree of grammatical
accuracy; errors are rare,
difcult to spot and
generally corrected when
they do occur.

Maintains consistent
grammatical control of
complex language, even
while attention is otherwise
engaged (e.g. in forward
planning, in monitoring
others reactions).

ACCURACY

Can produce stretches of


language with a fairly even
tempo; although he/she can
be hesitant as he/she
searches for patterns and
expressions. There are few
noticeably long pauses.

Can express him/herself


uently and spontaneously,
almost effortlessly. Only a
conceptually difcult
subject can hinder a natural,
smooth ow of language.

Can express him/herself


spontaneously at length with
a natural colloquial ow,
avoiding or backtracking
around any difculty so
smoothly that the
interlocutor is hardly
aware of it.

FLUENCY

Table 3. Common Reference Levels: qualitative aspects of spoken language use

Can initiate discourse, take


his/her turn when
appropriate and end
conversation when he/she
needs to, though he/she
may not always do this
elegantly. Can help the
discussion along on
familiar ground conrming
comprehension, inviting
others in, etc.

Can select a suitable phrase


from a readily available
range of discourse
functions to preface his
remarks in order to get or
to keep the oor and to
relate his/her own
contributions skilfully to
those of other speakers.

Can interact with ease and


skill, picking up and using
non-verbal and intonational cues apparently
effortlessly. Can interweave
his/her contribution into
the joint discourse with
fully natural turntaking,
referencing, allusion
making, etc.

INTERACTION

Can use a limited number


of cohesive devices to link
his/her utterances into
clear, coherent discourse,
though there may be
some jumpiness in a
long contribution.

Can produce clear,


smoothly owing, wellstructured speech,
showing controlled use of
organisational patterns,
connectors and cohesive
devices.

Can create coherent and


cohesive discourse
making full and appropriate use of a variety of
organisational patterns
and a wide range of
connectors and other
cohesive devices.

COHERENCE

Uses basic sentence patterns


with memorised phrases,
groups of a few words and
formulae in order to
communicate limited
information in simple
everyday situations.

Has a very basic repertoire


of words and simple phrases
related to personal details
and particular concrete
situations.

A1

Has enough language to get


by, with sufcient
vocabulary to express him/
herself with some hesitation
and circumlocutions on
topics such as family,
hobbies and interests, work,
travel, and current events.

A2

A2+

B1

B1+

Shows only limited control


of a few simple grammatical
structures and sentence
patterns in a memorised
repertoire.

Uses some simple structures


correctly, but still
systematically makes basic
mistakes.

Uses reasonably accurately a


repertoire of frequently used
routines and patterns
associated with more
predictable situations.

Can manage very short,


isolated, mainly prepackaged utterances, with
much pausing to search for
expressions, to articulate less
familiar words, and to repair
communication.

Can make him/herself


understood in very short
utterances, even though
pauses, false starts and
reformulation are very
evident.

Can keep going


comprehensibly, even though
pausing for grammatical and
lexical planning and repair is
very evident, especially in
longer stretches of free
production.

Can ask and answer


questions about personal
details. Can interact in a
simple way but
communication is totally
dependent on repetition,
rephrasing and repair.

Can answer questions and


respond to simple
statements. Can indicate
when he/she is following
but is rarely able to
understand enough to keep
conversation going of
his/her own accord.

Can initiate, maintain and


close simple face-to-face
conversation on topics that
are familiar or of personal
interest. Can repeat back
part of what someone has
said to conrm mutual
understanding.

Can link words or groups


of words with very basic
linear connectors like
and or then.

Can link groups of words


with simple connectors
like and, but and
because.

Can link a series of


shorter, discrete simple
elements into a
connected, linear
sequence of points.